“MASS INTOXIFICATION” At Cumbria Prison – As Prisons Minister Rory Stewart Does A Photo Call At Bristol Prison 250 Miles Away

In their latest annual report published today 1st March 2019 the IMB at HMP Haverigg, Cumbria’s only prison says there is continuing concern about the impact of widespread use of Psychoactive Substances (PS) not only on those addicted to its use but on the general prison population, staff and but also on the overall regime.

The report is published on the day that the Prisons’s MP – and Prisons Minister – Rory Stewart – spends the day 250 miles away at Bristol Prison.

Death risk from Psychotic Drugs

 It is disturbing to note in two reports from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, that PS may have been a contributory factor in two deaths in custody which occurred during the year within weeks of each other. Near fatalities in the latter half of the year have only been prevented by the swift and effective action of officers and healthcare staff.

Increased surveillance systems initially disrupted the supply chain of illicit drugs into the prison, but access to PS resumed, despite the best efforts of the management.

IMB Chair Lynne Chambers explains

“The Board has observed on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, the effects of the use of illicit substances, and on one day in November, when seventeen prisoners were found to be under the influence of PS in a ‘mass intoxication’

The impact on the populations of South and West Cumbria of the concentration of Northwest Ambulances at the prison throughout that day is likely to have been significant”.

Emotional challenges

The geographical isolation of HMP Haverigg, the limitations of public transport and an underdeveloped road network present both practical and emotional challenges to prisoners and their families in maintaining links. However, the Board commends the innovative work of the “Visitors and Children’s Support Group” in hosting a range of events for Families, Lifer/Long term prisoners, Enhanced prisoners, and the Kainos “Challenge to Change” programme.

Although tackling the use of PS and other illicit substances, has, necessarily, been of high priority throughout the reporting year, the Board has, nonetheless, observed the good progress and positive impact of the Rehabilitative Culture initiative on the prison population.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales, said it was a “shocking report”.

Mr Leech said: “Rory Stewart, who is not only a Cumbrian Member of Parliament but also Prisons Minister, should not be all smiles and shaking hands 250 miles away outside Bristol Prison – but right outside Haverigg main gate answering questions as to what on earth he is going to do to correct the defects identified in this shocking report.

“It seems Rory Stewart couldn’t care less”

Key Report Findings  

Are prisoners treated fairly?  

The effectiveness of the Rehabilitative Culture and Restorative Justice initiatives have had a significant impact on the outcome of adjudications with the IMB receiving just two applications from prisoners arising from this process. The Independent Monitoring Board is of the view that prisoners are treated fairly.

Are prisoners treated humanely?

The Board is of the opinion that the prison continues to have an emphasis on humane treatment and has regularly observed sensitive and respectful interaction between staff and prisoners. However, there have been occasions when some prisoners have had to endure unacceptable and adverse living conditions.,

Are prisoners prepared well for their release?

The Board has received a large number of applications from prisoners relating to sentence management and of these a third concerned preparations for release including accommodation, approved premises, bank accounts, support services and medication, for example. The Board is concerned that lack of preparation and resources to support prisoners in the community after release may increase the risk of re-offending.

For further information contact: the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Haverigg:

Notes

The Independent Monitoring Board is a body of volunteers established in accordance with the Prison Act 1952 and the Asylum Act 1999 which require every prison and IRC [Immigration Removal/Reception Centre] to be monitored by an independent Board, appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice, from members of the community.

To carry out these duties effectively IMB members have right of access to every prisoner, all parts of the prison and also to the prison’s records.

HMP Haverigg opened over 50 years ago, is on an old military airfield site dating from World War II and some of the original wartime buildings, are still in use.

Most of the prisoners are serving sentences of four or more years, although a significant number are serving a life sentence and a small number are of foreign nationality.

Read The Report

HMP Haverigg – Improvements but more to do

haveriggHMP Haverigg had a troubled past but was making improvements, and providing good work, training and education for prisoners, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in Cumbria.

HMP Haverigg, when last inspected in 2014, was holding around 650 men. At this more recent inspection, that number had more than halved. A police operation had been launched in 2016 to investigate two deaths in custody and a serious assault alleged to have taken place in the old billet accommodation. Inspectors had criticised the safety of these facilities in the past. As a consequence of these events, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) closed these units because the safety of prisoners living there could not be assured. The police investigation had not concluded. Managers and staff were therefore operating against the backdrop of a significant police investigation. The governor had retained most of the resources allocated for the larger population and was managing the remaining four units. He had made some notable improvements.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • every new prisoner was now seen on reception by a member of the mental health team, and prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm were well cared for;
  • levels of violence had reduced since the decommissioning of the billet accommodation and were lower than at other similar prisons, but still too high;
  • very few prisoners were isolating themselves and almost all of those spoken to during the inspection said that Haverigg was now a safer and more decent prison;
  • security was proportionate and rather than curtailing the regime and locking men up to keep them apart, the prison was managing risk;
  • Ofsted endorsed the governor for prioritising education and work as routes to rehabilitation, and the prison offered a range of quality full-time activity places for every prisoner;
  • there was a clear focus on getting people out of their cells and into work, education and training; and
  • there was a more strategic approach to managing resettlement.

Inspectors were, however, concerned to find that:

  • more needed to be done to manage the perpetrators of violence and support victims;
  • the long, rural and therefore vulnerable perimeter added to the problems of drugs at the jail;
  • little had been done to address the living conditions on the units which, apart from one, were shabby and dirty; and
  • although health services were good, a rigid application of a zero tolerance policy in dealing with challenging prisoners increased the risk of prisoners being deprived of the health care they needed.

Peter Clarke said:

“Haverigg has had a troubled past and there was still much to do at the establishment. That said, we recognise the efforts made by the governor and his team not to let that troubled past define the prison’s future. Haverigg’s real strength lies in its relationships, from the governor’s positive relationships with partners and staff associations to those between staff of all disciplines and the prisoners in their care. We left the establishment feeling confident that, with continued support from HMPPS, the team at Haverigg will embrace the recommendations made in this report and improvements will continue.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of HM Prison & Probation Service, said:

“As a result of concerns about safety at Haverigg we took the decision to close some of the old accommodation and reduce the population.

“This has allowed the governor to improve conditions for prisoners at Haverigg and I’m pleased that these improvements have been acknowledged by the inspectorate.

“The police investigation has now been concluded and the Governor will use the recommendations in the report to achieve further improvements at Haverigg.”

A copy of the full report, published on 16 August 2017, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP HAVERIGG – Some progress but safety needs to improve

haverigg

There was a real prospect of improvement at HMP Haverigg but it still had some way to go, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in west Cumbria.

HMP Haverigg is perhaps the prison service’s most isolated prison. It had weathered the uncertainties of budget cuts, prison closures and new policies better than most prisons. It had maintained its performance, there was a real sense of momentum and realistic plans were in place to tackle some long-term weaknesses. Nevertheless, outcomes for prisoners were still not good enough in some crucial areas.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • most prisoners said they felt safe, significantly more than at the last inspection and more than at comparable prisons;
  • support for men at risk of suicide or self-harm was consistently good;
  • staff-prisoner relationships were generally very good and mitigated some of the weaknesses in the prison;
  • health care had improved;
  • most prisoners were out of their cells for a decent amount of time during the day;
  • there was a wide range of work, training and education opportunities on offer which were linked to employment prospects in the areas to which most prisoners would return;
  • the ‘smokery’ produced and sold smoked food and provided a very realistic working environment; and
  • practical resettlement services, such as helping prisoners to find accommodation or a job on release, were generally good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • a minority of prisoners were subject to gang and debt-related bullying;
  • staff supervision was made difficult by the layout of the prison, with many prisoners accommodated in ‘billets’ or huts, poor external lighting and limited CCTV coverage;
  • not all incidents of violence were identified or investigated and support for victims was poor;
  • the use of segregation had increased, the use of force was high and some incidents were poorly dealt with;
  • the prison needed to improve its equality and diversity work and had little idea of the identity and needs of prisoners with protected characteristics;
  • there were too few work, training and education places available and allocation processes were inefficient; and
  • almost one-third of the population had an out of date or no OASys assessment.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Prisoners who kept their heads down, made the most of the opportunities on offer and whose needs were typical of the prison’s population as a whole would probably do reasonably well at Haverigg. However, those who needed more support or whose needs differed from the majority might have a less positive experience – sometimes to an unacceptable degree. Progress is being made and a positive, experienced staff group have created the foundations for further progress, but some processes need to be significantly improved and managers need to give close attention to ensuring that poor practice is challenged and improved.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted the progress being made at Haverigg during a period of real change.

“The wide range of work, training and education is helping to rehabilitate and resettle offenders and the Governor and his staff deserve real credit for the continued improvement.

“They will now use the recommendations in the report as part of their ongoing plans for the future.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 29 May 2014: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons